Community Right-To-Know laws and regulations were written specifically with you, the citizen, in mind. They are based on the principle that the more you and your neighbors know about hazardous chemicals in your community, the better prepared your community will be to manage these potential hazards and to improve public safety and health as well as environmental quality. By volunteering to work with your Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and engaging in a dialogue with local industry, you can play a major role in making the laws work.
The laws require industry and others to give you information on potential chemical hazards and inventories, releases of toxic chemicals into the environment, accident scenarios, and prevention practices.
There are several ways you can become involved in obtaining and using this information to enhance the quality of life in your community:
- Attend LEPC meetings and make sure all appropriate groups are members. Volunteer to serve on the LEPC as a citizen representative.
- Make sure that the LEPC has obtained all the information it needs from local facilities to prepare a comprehensive emergency response plan.
- Review and comment on the emergency response plan, and ask questions about how procedures set out in the plan affect you, your family, or your place of business.
- Ask for information from your LEPC or SERC about chemical hazards, inventories, and releases in your community. Make sure both the SERC and LEPC have established procedures to make the information reported under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) readily available to the public. Ask your LEPC what facilities are doing to reduce chemical hazards.
- Use the national databases available from EPA at www.epa.gov/enviro to obtain information on chemicals in your community. This website contains links to other government and non-government websites that may be of interest. Many facilities also have websites that provide information on safety policies and practices.
- Call or visit facilities in your community and ask if they have complied with the reporting, emissions, and prevention requirements of state and federal environmental laws.
These laws give you the opportunity to become directly involved in the decisions that affect your safety and health. Your knowledge of and participation in these programs can help ensure that they accomplish their goals in your community.